Police officers will spend more time patrolling Britain's streets from next year, after Home Secretary Teresa May pledged to cut the number of hours that they spent on desk work.

The move would help them to build much closer ties with local people and businesses, she said in a speech at the Conservative Party Conference.

Officers will also be required to hold regular beat meetings with residents, and forces will publish detailed street-level crime statistics from next year.

May also pledged a tougher stance on antisocial behavior, with more 'restorative justice' schemes and tougher penalties for perpetrators. "We know the damage that antisocial behavior can do to a community, and we know that it can be even more destructive than other types of crime because it so often targets those who are least able to look after themselves," she said. Her words have been cheered by small shop owners.

"Any kind of initiative that shows crime is being taken more seriously is welcome," said Dean Holborn of Holborns in Surrey.

The ACS also gave the news a warm welcome.